Sunday, November 30, 2014

16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children

25 November 2014

The African National Congress calls on all South Africans to rally behind the campaign of 16 days of activism against violence on women and children. We believe that this annual campaign which was initiated by government has managed to galvanize and mobilize South Africans to take a stand against the scourge of violence which victimized and traumatized helpless members of society.

The ANC calls on male members of society to form a critical part of this campaign to ensure that we promote responsible behavior that observes the destructive nature of violence. Our ability to eradicate this scourge will assist in healing the scars of violence and the use of to address problems. We call on ANC structures and its allies to lead in promoting non violent behavior within all our communities.

We also take this opportunity to call on our law enforcement agencies to demonstrate zero tolerance for gender based violence including that of children. Our communities must not be quiet or turn a blind eye on the perpetrators of such violence. Let us expose and isolate individuals behind this despicable acts. Let us work towards safer and protected communities!

Issued by:
Zizi Kodwa
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Keith Khoza: 082 823 9672
Khusela Sangoni-Khawe : 079 510 5408

The minimum wage for domestic workers

25 November 2014

The African National Congress welcomes the decision of the Minister of Labour to upwardly adjust the salaries of domestic workers within the framework of national minimum wage and in respect of the new minimum wage. This decision that comes into effect as from December 2014 is a milestone in demonstrating the commitment of the ANC government to improve the quality of life of lowly paid workers. The challenge facing low income workers is the pressure of coping with the ever increasing cost of living.

This major advance in the sectoral minimum wage will go a long way in addressing exploitation of workers by those employing them. This major decision must be sustained in all sectors of the labour to assist in closing the gap between those in the top bracket and those in the lowest level of earners.

Issued by:
Zizi Kodwa
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Keith Khoza: 082 823 9672
Khusela Sangoni-Khawe: 079 510 5408
SACP Mpumalanga Provincial Council Statement

25 November 2014

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in Mpumalanga Province held a successful Provincial Council on 22 November 2014 in Belfast. The Council was attended by 309 delegates representing four districts and the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA), and was graced by the Central Committee. Cde Solly Mapaila, Second Deputy General Secretary delivered the CC’s keynote address. The YCLSA and Alliance partners the ANC, COSATU and SANCO delivered messages of support. The Communist Party of Swaziland delivered a solidarity message and briefed the Council about the situation in Swaziland.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

The council noted with concern the challenges that women continue to face and condemned gender-based violence as an international human rights violation in strongest terms possible. The SACP in the province will continue playing an activist role in combating all forms of gender-based domination.

Unite the people’s camp, neutralise our opponents and detractors, and isolate the enemy

The Council noted with concern continuing attacks by imperialist agents are aimed at weakening the state of our alliance, the federation and the democratic government. Imperialists will always defend their interests in every country and will stop at nothing to destabilise revolutionary movements across the world and to seek to dislodge them from power. In SA there are interacting machinations to destabilise the country and dislodge the ANC from power.

The anarchy displayed by the right-wing alliance comprising among other opposition parties the DA and the EFF is part of this machinations. The Council condemned these childish shenanigans in strongest terms possible. We commit to unite the people’s camp, neutralise our detractors and isolate the enemy. Victory against this right-wing alliance is certain!

We will also scale up our fight against lumpen-tenderpreneurship which is causing havoc in our province. We reiterate the Party’s campaign to fight against corruption both in the public and private sectors including within our own movement without fear, favour or prejudice.

Allegations labelled against ANC Provincial Chairperson

The council notes with concern the allegations labelled against the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC Cde David Mabuza as reported in the press. We view this in a serious light. We call on the President to heed to the call for a formal inquiry to investigate these serious and damning allegations which have a potential to divide our movement and plunge our provincial government into endemic crisis.

The scope of the inquiry must be expanded. On a separate score, the SACP in the province is of the view that some of the remnants of apartheid are still active and in full swing operations. Some of their tendencies which were masterminded in collaboration with foreign agencies must be unearthed and dealt with. They were trained to be anti-communist and their daily bread is planning to liquidate the Communist Party and kill its leaders, especially in our province.

Radical Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution: Going to the root

The National Democratic Revolution remains the direct route to Socialism. This makes it hard for agents of imperialism to accept ANC’s alliance with the SACP, hence they are hell-bent in seeking to destroy the Alliance. Our message to them is: “You will fail with distinction!”

This phase of our revolution must rollback neoliberalism and address the challenges that are rooted in the basic structure of our economy in line with the Freedom Charter. We must simultaneously defend the progressive gains on the first two decades of our democratic breakthrough.

Unity of the Alliance is sacrosanct

The Council noted the developments within COSATU and expressed support for a broader Alliance intervention to restore principled and disciplined unity based on the respect for democracy and diversity of views.


The Council noted the temporary asylum status given to the Swazi political exiles that will expire in March 2015. We call on the South African government to grant the Swazi political exiles a full asylum status. We will continue to support the Communist Party of Swaziland and other revolutionary forces who are opposed to oppression and economic exploitation.

We condemn the decision by Mswati’s the regime to shut down all trade union federations. The Mswati regime continues to violate human rights.


The Council commended the South African government’s intervention to restore order in Lesotho. The destabilization of Lesotho has serious consequences for South Africa given its geographic location and for the Southern African region in general.


We welcome the move by the South African government to pledge $1 million towards humanitarian assistance in Gaza. We further wish to appreciate the efforts made by South African government to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East.

The Council reiterated support for the boycott of Israeli products produced in occupied Palestinian territories.

Transform the financial sector to serve the people!

The Council resolved to intensify the 2014/5 Red October Campaign’s programme aimed at intensifying the struggle to transform the financial sector to serve the people.

Issued by SACP Mpumalanga


Bonakele Majuba - Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 082 968 4877

Lesetja Dikgale - Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 076 869 4360

Tinyiko Ntini - Provincial Media Liaison
Mobile: 071171 5984
COSATU`s Call to Action on 16 Days of Activism

25 November 2014

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is issuing this call to all South Africans as we begin 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence against women and children.

Over the last three years our country has seen an unprecedented rise in the scourge of GBV. More and more women and children are exposed to all forms of abuse and violence - battering, rape and murder. Children have become a bargaining chip who can be destroyed at any time when men face challenges in their relationships.

Will South Africa ever be free of patriarchy? It has become a widely recognised fact that patriarchal norms and attitudes, including those that excuse or legitimise the use of violence, are driving the high rates of GBV in South Africa.

This social scourge has got many destructive results for women’s, children’s and gay people’s lives. In addition to intimate partner violence, lesbian women are killed for sport in South Africa with their families finding very little support from the judicial system.

As this international campaign begins, COSATU reminds South Africans that our campaign is not just for 16 days but 365 Days of Activism against GBV, as our country is leading in this atrocious scourge. A woman is raped every 26 seconds and can face secondary harassment, even further rape, at the police station as well.

According to a study by Genderlinks more than three quarters of South African men have perpetrated violence against women in their lifetime and more than half of in South African women have experienced gender-based violence, which indicates under-reporting of GBV.

COSATU is making a clarion call to the SAPS, the Judiciary, Parliament and the South African population at large that enough is enough! No to gender-based violence!

The majority of South Africans, who also happen to be women, have placed very high hopes on our democracy. They continue to vote in large numbers in every election and yet their issues continue to be the lowest priority on the politicians’ agenda.

The Genderlinks report also indicated that only 4, 8% of 1956 political speeches made in 2013 mentioned GBV. This is very worrying considering that women are represented at 44% within our Parliament; this figure should have been at least 44%.

We call on our communities to display a 0% tolerance for GBV. We call on our politicians to advance sterner measures for dealing with perpetrators. We call on our judiciary to be firm on perpetrators of GBV! We call on the police to be tough on perpetrators of GBV! We call on the government to educate all its officials on GBV!

GBV implications go beyond the personal; they impact on health resources, access to education and employment for women as well as on productivity.
- Don`t be a victim! Know your rights! Speak out!
- Don’t be a perpetrator! Act against abuse!
- Count yourself in by breaking the silence!
- Do not look away! Lend a hand! GBV is a public matter!
- Count me in!
Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward!
From Peace in the home to peace in the world!
Let us challenge militarism and end violence against women!

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
Central African Militia Says to Lay Down Arms, Become Political Party
DAKAR (Reuters) - The 'anti-balaka' militia in Central African Republic, formed in response to abuses by mostly Muslim rebels who seized power last year, said it would lay down its weapons and become a political movement.

Representatives for the mostly Christian militia movement decided at a general assembly in the capital Bangui late on Saturday that their movement would be renamed the Centralafrican Party for Unity and Development (PCUD).

Leaders of the anti-balaka movement - which is popular with many in southern Central African Republic - have for several months aspired to turn the militia into a political movement ahead of presidential and legislative elections next year.

"We pledge to look forward, as responsible individuals concerned for a better future for Central African Republic and its people," said Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, a businessman and coordinator of the anti-balaka movement.

"From today, no member of the anti-balaka should use weapons, for any reason. Our arms must all be buried,"

The international community, led by former colonial power, has called for the warring factions in Central African Republic to become more directly involved in the political process. The audience for Ngaissona's announcement included diplomats and senior government officials.

Ngaissona did not say who would be the party's candidate for next year's presidential vote, meant to draw a line under a democratic transition.

He said that anyone who broke the ceasefire order would be prosecuted in the courts. Central African Republic's creaking judicial and prison system has been completely overwhelmed by the abuses committed since Seleka swept down from their northern strongholds to Bangui in March 2013.

Thousands of people have been killed in sectarian violence since the 'anti-balaka' took up arms in September 2013 in response to months of killings, looting and rape by Seleka forces, many of them from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

Seleka leader Michel Djotodia resigned as president in January, ceding power to a transitional government, but simmering violence has continued. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled to a northern enclave controlled by Seleka, effectively dividing the country along religious lines.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
SOMALIA: Risk of Disease Outbreaks Heightened With Seasonal Short Rains
November 30, 2014
Mogadishu (RBC)

Over 170,000 health consultations were reported in October from health facilities across Somalia, a 16 per cent increase compared to last month, according to health partners.

As anticipated, the increase followed the start of the short rains when the disease outbreaks usually surge. Of the diseases under surveillance, the leading causes of morbidity were confirmed malaria, suspected measles and acute watery diarrhoea.

Seasonal flooding due to overflow of the Shabelle and Juba rivers has been rep-orted from six regions of Somalia with different levels of severity, according to the Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM), led by FAO.

An estimated 50,000 people have been aff-ected by the flooding and about 30,000 people hereof have been temporary displaced, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

Some of the affected people require immediate humanitarian assistance while some could relocate with their belongings, but may have had their livelihoods affected. These people may require livelihoods support.

Areas reportedly hardest hit include Belet Weyne in Hiraan region where about 21,000 people have been affected. As of the second week of November, the flood warning levels reduced from severe to moderate due to reduced rainfall.
EU Votes to Keep Occupying Somalian Waters
The EU Naval Force will continue occupying Somalia waters.
European council extends counter-piracy patrols for two years to secure humanitarian aid shipments to Somalia from the UN’s World Food Programme

Mark Anderson
Wednesday 26 November 2014 10.31 EST

Counter-piracy naval patrols to protect shipments of humanitarian aid for Somalia will continue for two years amid severe hunger in the Horn of Africa.

The European council voted last week to extend the EU naval force’s Operation Atalanta until December 2016, saying its main focus is to protect shipments from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) that pass through pirate waters on the way to Somalia.

Somali pirates are known to operate in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean. In 2011, incidents of piracy off Somalia’s coast reached an all-time high, with 176 attacks, according to the EU. But attacks dwindled to seven in 2013 and only two so far this year, although many incidents involving smaller pirate boats go unreported, EU data showed.

Despite the sharp decline in attacks, pirates still pose a threat to humanitarian shipments, said Federica Mogherini, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. “Operation Atalanta has considerably helped in reducing piracy off the Somali coast. We must maintain the pressure on pirates to help ensure security in the Horn of Africa. This is in our mutual interest,” said Mogherini.

More than 1 million Somalis need emergency food aid, marking a 20% rise since January, according to the WFP. Over 2 million more are “struggling to meet their minimum food requirements”, and risk “falling in a food security and nutrition crisis if humanitarian assistance is not sustained”, the WFP said.

The bulk of these supplies are shipped through the Gulf of Aden. The counter-piracy force has shielded more than 924,000 tonnes of food aid since it began in 2008, according to the WFP.

“Without escorts, our whole maritime supply route would be under threat and the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Somalis who depend on WFP would be at risk. Ship owners and contractors have reported that the presence of escort vessels in Somali waters has discouraged attacks,” said a WFP spokeswoman.

The EU naval force Somalia (Navfor) was launched in response to piracy off the country’s coast. Renewing the force for two more years will cost €14.7m (£11.7m), according to EU estimates.

“One of Navfor’s early contributions was to patrol and escort convoys along the international recognised transit corridor, which more or less eliminated piracy in the Gulf of Aden,” said Jay Bahadur, journalist and author of The Pirates of Somalia. “The last known hijacking of a humanitarian shipment into Somalia was the MV Rozen in February 2007; by late 2007 the French navy began escorting WFP ships into port, a role that Navfor subsequently took over.”

French sailors work on the bridge as a gunner is reflected in a window onboard the EU NAVFOR (European Union Naval Force) French flagship FS Siroco off the coast of the port city Bosaso, in Somalia's semi-autonomous state Puntland, in the Gulf of Aden, 27 March 2014.

 French sailors work on board the EU Navfor French flagship FS Siroco off the coast of Somalia, with a gunner reflected in the glass. Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA
In 2011 a famine threatening nearly 4 million people was declared in Somalia. Since then, the WFP has been providing food aid to the country. But a funding shortfall could limit humanitarian shipments from next month.
Talks to Resume Between the Federal Government of Somalia and Somaliland
November 29, 2014
Mogadishu (RBC)

Talks are expected to resume in Istanbul, Turkey, between the Federal Government of Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland and the country’s north, RBC Radio reports.

A delegation led by Somaliland’s foreign minister Mohamed Bihi Yonis reached Istanbul yesterday for the beginning of this round of talks. The Federal Government of Somalia is also expected to send its representatives to Istanbul in the coming hours to participate the talks on he country;s future.

Turkey has been the main mediation nation as the negotiations on Somalia were hosted to take place in Istanbul since 2012.

Both sides have failed to hold the planed talks in September this year which some attributed to the current internal row between the President and the Prime Minister.

Somaliland delegation have expressed their readiness to the talks and complained the delay of the talks as the result of the rift within that the Mogadishu based Federal Government.

According to sources in Istanbul both representatives will work of nominating a joint technical committee which will be tasked for executing daily activities and agreed points of the current talks while the joint Secretariat formed by the both sides is operational in Istanbul with the help of Ankara Government.

RBC Radio
Gov. Deval Patrick Says He Won’t Enter 2016 Presidential Race
Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick says he will not run for president.
November 30, 2014 6:27 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — Outgoing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Host Chuck Todd Sunday he will not be running for president in 2016.

“I’ve thought about it, but no, I can’t get ready for 2016,” Patrick said during the interview. “I’ve felt it’s been two really challenging and fun terms, but I didn’t run for the job to get another job. I ran to do this job.”

However, he cautioned against Democrats backing Hillary Clinton  as the “inevitable” presidential nominee for the upcoming elections.

“I think the narrative that it’s inevitable is off-putting to regular voters,” Patrick said.

“The American people want, and ought to want, their candidates to sweat for the job, to actually make a case for why they’re the right person at the right time,” he added.

Patrick addressed a number of issues during his interview Sunday, including his opinion on the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

Patrick said he “wanted to see an indictment.”

“Mostly because I think a trial and the transparency of a trial would be good for the community,” Patrick said.

Patrick said he understood President Barack Obama’s decision to tread lightly on sensitive race issues, including Ferguson, and hearkened on his own tenure as the first black governor of Massachusetts. He recalled a time when he was called to respond to a gang shooting during his tenure.

“Governors aren’t normally expected to come to street crime scenes,” he said.

“The expectations of me by virtue of being a black elected official were different. And I had to learn that, and ultimately I did go out,” Patrick said.
Afghan Surrogate Forces Ill Equipped to Fight Taliban Without NATO
Afghan puppet army cannot face adversaries without Pentagon.
1:23am GMT
By Kay Johnson and Mirwais Harooni

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan district police chief Ahmadullah Anwari only has enough grenades to hand out three to each checkpoint in an area of Helmand province swarming with Taliban insurgents who launch almost daily attacks on security forces.

"Sometimes up to 200 Taliban attack our checkpoints and if there are no army reinforcements, we lose the fight," said Anwari, in charge of one of Afghanistan's most volatile districts, Sangin.

"It shames me to say that we don't have enough weapons and equipment. But this is a bitter reality."

As most foreign combat troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after 13 years of war, the experiences of Anwari and other police chiefs and army commanders across the country are NATO's biggest worry.

The United States, which provides the bulk of NATO troops in Afghanistan, has poured some $61 billion into training a nascent 350,000-strong security force, seeing it as the lynchpin of a plan to exit its longest war.

U.S. and Afghan commanders have praised the bravery and effectiveness of local soldiers, police and others in the face of a Taliban onslaught that has killed more than 4,600 Afghan security force members already this year.

And, despite increasingly deadly suicide bombings and assaults on military and civilian targets, most of the country is under government control, albeit loosely in some areas.

"The Afghan national security forces are winning, and this is a hugely capable fighting force who have been holding their ground against the enemy," Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, second-in-command for coalition forces, told a recent press briefing.

Yet wary of the threat posed by the Taliban as thousands of troops, and most of their sophisticated arms and equipment, head for the exit, Washington appears to be hedging its bets.

President Barack Obama recently freed those few thousand U.S. soldiers remaining post-2014 as part of a 12,000-strong NATO force to engage the Taliban in combat if necessary.


Incidents in recent days illustrate how Afghan forces will struggle with reduced Western support, particularly from the air, however much they may have progressed.

They also underline how fragile stability remains in Afghanistan, where the West is desperate to prevent the hardline Islamist Taliban movement from returning to power 13 years after it was toppled for protecting al Qaeda.

When insurgents attacked a foreign guest house in central Kabul last Thursday, Afghan commandos killed the attackers, but international helicopters and special forces helped in the mop-up operation that lasted hours.

Taliban fighters also entered Camp Bastion, a large base in the southern Helmand province handed over to Afghan troops a month ago by withdrawing U.S. and British forces. It took Afghan soldiers three days to drive the insurgents out.

Gen. John Campbell, commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said the U.S. would provide limited close air support next year and new aircraft to allow the Afghan Air Force to attack the enemy and evacuate the wounded.

But that takes time. It will be at least three or four years before a home-grown air force can replace U.S. planes and helicopters, said Maj. Gen. John McMullen, the U.S. officer in charge of developing Afghan air capabilities.
The prospect of less frequent intervention by fighter jets and attack helicopters across the country's often hostile terrain is a daunting one.

"If we had air support, we could very easily defeat the Taliban and we would not face a big number of fatalities," said Mohebullah, police chief of Baraki Barak district in the eastern province of Logar.

In August, hundreds of Taliban mounted one of its most brazen attacks in recent years in Logar, just south of Kabul.

Mohebullah, who goes by one name, said his men were fighting bravely but complained of being outgunned. Officers are armed with AK-47 rifles and a few rocket-propelled grenade launchers, but he said insurgents had mortars and machine guns.


Aside from air support and weapons, intelligence gathering is still dependent on U.S. systems. Keeping supply chains running for everything from ammunition to spare parts for vehicles is another recurring problem.

Civilian casualties are climbing, meanwhile, with more than 1,500 people killed in the first six months of 2014, 17 percent higher than in the first half of 2013 and on track to make this year the deadliest of the war, according to the UN.

Nearly 3,500 foreign soldiers have died since 2001, including around 2,200 Americans.

The U.S.-led coalition says insurgent attacks have fallen this year, although the number of 18,000 given by Anderson still amounts to more than 50 a day.

And while the coalition says Afghan forces control most of the country, the reality on the ground can be very different.

Graeme Smith, senior Kabul analyst for the International Crisis Group, says that in many remote districts, the government controls a few administrative buildings "but the influence of Afghan forces may not extend far beyond that point".

(Additional reporting by Jessica Donati; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Mike Collett-White)
Rebels Struggle Over Libya's Oil Risks Breaking Up Country
Rebels continue to fight over the control of neo-colonial Libya.
Fri, Nov 28 2014

TRIPOLI-- Libya's self-proclaimed rebel prime minister has warned that attempts by a rival regime in the east to assert control over the oil industry could escalate the political conflict dividing the OPEC member state and force it to break in two.

Libya has had two governments competing for power since August when a group called Operation Libya Dawn, which opponents say is backed by Islamists, seized Tripoli and forced the elected Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to flee 1,000 km to a small city near the border with Egypt.
Both sides have so far avoided talking publicly about prospect of a split.

The warning by Omar al-Hassi, prime minister of the rival government, came after Thinni's government claimed air strikes on Tripoli's Mitigate airport this week, escalating a confrontation that started with an attack by Libya Dawn on a rival force in Tripoli in July.

The new rulers in the capital are not recognized by the United Nations and world powers but have taken over ministries, oil facilities, airports and much of western and central Libya.

In a step to assert control over the oil industry, Thinni's government said on Wednesday it had appointed a new chairman of the National Oil Corp. Thinni had initially retained the state oil firm's previous head, Mustafa Sanallah, but he remains in Tripoli.

The conflict gripping Libya three years after the CIA-Pentagon-NATO engineered overthrow of  longtime Pan-Africanist leader Muammar Gaddafi poses a legal dilemma for oil traders, who are left wondering who owns Libya's oil exports, worth more that $10 billion a year. The country sits on Africa's largest oil reserves.

"Libya's oil has become part of the war," Hassi told Reuters in an interview. "We had hoped that oil would not be part of this conflict."

Hassi said Libya might break up if the international community allowed Thinni to appoint its own NOC chairman and eventually form an eastern oil company.

"Helping to create a new oil company means helping to break up Libya," Hassi said late on Thursday, sitting in Thinni's old office. "The West will be responsible for this problem in the future."

Hassi said the NOC appointment was an attempt to take over oil facilities in the east with the help of a former general, Khalifa Haftar, whose armed group has merged with the army in the east to fight enemies he describes Islamists.

"There are attempts (by Thinni) to set up an eastern Supreme Court, there are attempts to launch a central bank in the east, there are attempts to establish a separate oil ministry in the east," said Hassi, who said he was against partition.

Thinni's government has sought to move heads of state-run institutions to the east as he is recognized by the international community, but he too denies any plans for secession.

But Hassi said Thinni's government had shown it intended to control oil facilities in the eastern rump state by picking al-Mabrook Bou Seif as new NOC Chairman, since he was from the same tribe as Ibrahim Jathran, a former rebel leader who seized eastern ports for a year to press for regional autonomy.

Jathran, who reopened the oil ports in April in a deal with Thinni's government, has said he will push for eastern secession if the world recognizes Hassi's government.

Hassi said OPEC had contributed to the escalation by refusing to invite his oil minister, Mashallah Zwai, an invitation to a meeting on Thursday attended by Thinni's delegation.

Hassi said Turkey might mediate between the two sides as it had a direct interest due to its large business interests in Libya. The United Nations has started a dialogue but talks have gone nowhere, diplomats say.

"Everybody respects Turkey. Turkey wants a quick solution to Libya's problem so it can start investing. The Turkish state thinks of the economy," Hassi said.

"Turkey uses quiet language, good language and demonstrates good political thinking. It gives both sides the chance for dialogue, which is very important," he said. "They think in a balanced way."

Turkey is one of the few countries to have met top Hassi officials publicly. Ankara, which has also good relations with Thinni, had also invited Zwai to a business forum.

"We are open to dialogue," said Hassi. "This conflict cannot be solved by war."

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Death Toll Hits 450 as Fighting Continues in Libya's Benghazi
Damage from rebel clashes in Benghazi.
2014-11-30 21:24:13

TRIPOLI, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- At least 450 people were killed in violent clashes and illegal executions in Libya's Benghazi since the Libyan army launched operations in the second largest city, medical sources said on Sunday.

"The people killed include civilians hit by random shelling and shooting in the areas of the clashes, as well as armed civilians who participate with the retired general Khalifa Haftar's forces," a medical worker at a local hospital said.

He added that the death toll included "the Islamist fighters whose bodies were transferred to the city's hospitals."

A spokesman for Benghazi Medical Center announced that the hospital has received 401 dead bodies, mostly army soldiers, since mid October. The number of dead bodies received by other hospitals in eastern Libya since the start of the battles is about 49.

A joint statement of the Libyan Red Crescent Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the violence has forced more than 10,000 families to leave Benghazi, and many other deserted their homes in the city.

Since Oct. 15, the Libyan army and forces loyal to the retired Major General Khalifa Haftar are waging a war to restore the city of Benghazi which had been held by Islamist militias. Some witnesses said that heavy clashes took place in the dense-populated area of the city.

Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 counter-revolution that toppled Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, has witnessed a drastic escalation of violence since then. The city is now plagued by assassinations, kidnappings and deadly clashes between different armed groups.
About 400 Killed in Past Six Weeks of Fighting in Libya's Benghazi: Medics
Benghazi damage from internecine fighting among rebels.
Sat, Nov 29 2014

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - About 400 people have been killed in six weeks of heavy fighting between Libyan pro-government forces and Islamist groups in Libya's second-largest city Benghazi, medical staff said on Saturday.

Backed by forces led by a former general, the newly formed government army launched in mid-October an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and from several camps the army had lost during the summer.

In the past three weeks the fighting has centered around Benghazi's commercial port where pro-government forces say Islamists are holed up. The port has had to close, disrupting food supplies in the eastern city.

"The death toll has risen to 400," a source at a Benghazi hospital said, declining to be identified for security reasons. Medics at other hospitals in the city confirmed the estimated death toll.

The fighting in Benghazi is part of wider turmoil in the North African country. Two governments, each with their own parliament and army chief of staff are vying for legitimacy, three years after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.

In August, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and his cabinet were forced to leave Tripoli for the east of Libya when group called Libya Dawn seized the capital.

The new rulers set up their own government and parliament, but these have not been recognized by the United Nations and world powers.

The situation has been complicated by the Benghazi fighting where former general Khalifa Haftar has merged his force with the army under a mandate from the elected parliament, which is allied to Thinni and also operates out of the east.

Haftar's spokesman Mohamed El Hejazi said his forces had surrounded the Islamists in the port area.

"All types of weapons including aircraft supporting the infantry are being used to deal with them," he said.

Western powers and Libya's neighbors fear the conflict is dragging the major oil producer towards civil war.

Haftar's forces have planes from Libya's outdated air force though his opponents say he is backed by Egypt which is worried about the spread of militants. Haftar denies this.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
U.N. Urges U.S. to Stop Police Brutality After Missouri Shooting
Shop burned to ground in Ferguson, Missouri on Nov. 24, 2014.
Fri, Aug 29 2014
By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.

"Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing," Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.

Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson - a St. Louis suburb - and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.

"The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown," said Amir, an expert from Algeria.

"This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials."

The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made "great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination" but conceded that "we have much left to do".

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding.

A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.


In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said "Stand Your Ground" Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to "remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense".

Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.

The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.

"The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police," it said, urging investigations.

The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted "shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

"When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad," he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Arab League Backs Palestinian Push for Statehood
Arab League Foreign Ministers' Summit during Sept. 2014.
AFP, Saturday 29 Nov 2014

The Arab League on Saturday backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's plan to seek UN endorsement for a timetable for declaring an independent state, and rejected recognising Israel as a Jewish nation.

But the extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers, which Abbas attended, did not announce when they would approach the United Nations Security Council.

A statement said the ministers agreed a plan which includes submitting an "Arab proposal to the United Nations Security Council to end the (Israeli) occupation," of Palestinian land.

The 22-member bloc also said they support plans by Abbas to said in a statement.

It also backed Palestinian plans to seek membership in UN agencies and international courts.

In 2012, the Palestinians won the status of UN observer state.

With peace talks now bogged down, the Palestinians have warned they would go ahead with plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding an end to Israeli occupation.

As part of their diplomatic offensive they are also determined to seek to join the International Criminal Court, where they could sue Israeli officials over allegations of war crimes.

The Arab foreign ministers also announced Saturday their "categorical rejection of recognising Israel as a Jewish state," the statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that Abbas, whose Palestinian Liberation Organisation recognised Israel in a 1993 accord, affirm the country as a "Jewish state".

Netanyahu's government has passed a controversial draft law enshrining in law Israel's status as the Jewish national homeland.

Israel's identity is already contained in its 1948 declaration of independence, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, which said the new proposal fails to emphasise "commitment to the equality of all its citizens".

Netanyahu insists the law would balance Israel's Jewish and democratic characteristics.

The country's parliament, the Knesset, is to vote on the proposal on December 3.
Hundreds Gather at Tahrir Entrance to Protest Mubarak Verdict
Egyptians demonstrate against the acquittal of Hosni Mubarak.
Hala Safwat, Saturday 29 Nov 2014

Several hundred demonstrators denounce the Mubarak acquittal verdicts in Cairo; small protests in Alexandria and Mansoura

Several hundred protesters gathered at a road leading into Tahrir Square in Cairo to demonstrate against Saturday's court verdict that dropped charges against former president Hosni Mubarak of killing protesters during the 2011 revolution.

A group of around 1000 people gathered in front of the army vehicles and barbed wire that is blocking off the entrance to the iconic square, while a smaller group of around 50 people gathered a few metres away at the Egyptian Museum, according to an Ahram reporter at the scene.

Army and police forces had blocked off the square after the verdict and prevented attempts by the protesters to enter.

Protesters carried pictures of some of those who were killed during the January uprising. Demonstrators also chanted against both the government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They demanded the execution of the former autocrat.

Earlier on Saturday, Cairo Criminal Court acquitted former president Hosni Mubarak, the former interior minister and top security chiefs of charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising. Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem were also acquitted of corruption charges related to the export of natural gas to Israel at below-market prices.

In Alexandria, four protesters were briefly detained at a protest against the verdict. Security forces dispersed the demonstration of dozens shortly after it started.

Dozens have also gathered in Revolution Square in Mansoura city in the Delta where protesters chanted against "military rule" and demanded justice, according to Ahram Arabic news website.
Egypt's Prosecution to Appeal Mubarak Verdict
Egyptian army remains securely in control of the state.
Ahram Online, , Saturday 29 Nov 2014

Former president along with ex-interior minister and aides found not guilty of killing protesters in 2011 uprising

Egypt's prosecutor-general, Hisham Barakat, will appeal the acquittal verdict issued early Saturday given to former president Hosni Mubarak on charges of responsibility for killing protesters.

Former interior minister Habib El-Adly and a number of security officials were also acquitted of the charges in the case, and Mubarak’s two sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were acquitted of corruption charges.

The prosecutor-general has ordered an integrated study by prepared on the legal reasons behind the verdicts.

The defendants were initially convicted in June 2012, but the guilty verdict was overturned on appeal and a retrial began in April 2013.

The 86-year-old former president, who ruled for 30 years, has spent much of his detention at a military hospital on the southern outskirts of Cairo.

Despite being acquitted on Saturday, Mubarak and his two sons are still facing separate three-year prison terms for embezzlement of public funds.

El-Adly will also remain in jail. In May 2011, he was convicted of money laundering and profiteering, for which he is now serving a seven-year sentence.
What Does the Mubarak Verdict Mean for Egypt's Political Scene?
Demonstrations continue on the campuses in Egypt against the
military-backed regime of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. 
Dina Ezzat, Saturday 29 Nov 2014

Hours after the government threatened to use live ammunition to deter Islamist demonstrations, a criminal court dropped charges against president Hosni Mubarak of killing demonstrators during the 25 January revolution.

The dropping of charges, which came after the recent acquittal of former Mubarak political figures including business tycoon Ahmed Ezz, was expected by many legal experts in view of the lack of prosecution evidence directly implicating the ousted president and his security aides, who was also charged in the case.

It does, however, prompt questions about a number of issues, at the heart of which is the role of police in managing politics and the possible rapprochement, or lack thereof, between the new regime, which is headed by Mubarak’s last head of military intelligence, and the former political network of the acquitted president.

Political scientist Gamal Abdel-Gawwad, who was close to the Mubarak regime towards the end of Mubarak’s presidency, is convinced that the implication of the acquittal is a mixture of rapprochement and divorce.

“I think it will make the police forces feel more comfortable and more confident about the lack of possible legal repercussions for executing commands to use force against demonstrators who aim to violate the protest law, whether we like it or not, or to undermine the state,” Abdel-Gawwad said.

“The sense of hesitation that marked the performance of the police since the end of the January 2011 Revolution and the arrest of all top figures of the ministry of interior should now come to an end.”

Whether or not the end of this assumed hesitation will bring about a more aggressive or simply more effective police, Abdel-Gawwad argued, is something that will be decided by the political will of the ruling regime.

The reading of this is widely contested by the revolutionary camp – small and isolated as it might be at present – and those who support the government of current President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The former are clearly frustrated by the parallel between the acquittal of Mubarak and his top aides and the arrest of some key revolutionary figures. They are also pessimistic about what they fear will be increased repression.

Leftist political figure Wael Khalil is among those who share this view. While applying caution and arguing that “we need time to get a good read of how this verdict transpires on the ground,” Khalil is not at all uncertain about the message that this verdict sends when it comes to using force against demonstrators.

Abdel-Gawwad disagrees. The verdict, which he insists is not particularly influenced by the political will of the current regime, will not necessarily prompt the interior ministry leadership to go too far in using force “because when all is said and done it has been proven that excessive use of force does not serve the interests of a ruling regime.”

An equally central political debate prompted by Saturday’s verdict relates to the fate of prominent figures associated with Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.

For some, this verdict empowers attempts already put into motion by some NDP figures to reach out to their bases and to seek the majority of seats in the next parliament. Elections may take place either in the first quarter of 2015, as recently promised by state officials, or later.

Sources close to the NDP tycoon Ahmed Ezz had already been speaking of the extensive efforts that Ezz is undertaking to reassemble the NDP network, with an eye on some two-thirds of the next parliament’s seats. Some of those discussing this issue say that the current government supports his efforts, while others say they do not.

And while speculations have been high as to who is supporting Ezz’s political moves, the business tycoon himself had been on the record as saying that he has no intention of running as an MP.

Bassem Yassa, a political activist, is of the opinion that Saturday’s verdict should not be interpreted as an unconditional vote of confidence from the executive for the entire clique of the NDP.

The ruling regime, he argued, should not necessarily be seen as the power behind the verdict, which he said was in fact “expected all the way through due to legal reasons”.

“In any case one cannot force a link between the regime of [Abdel-Fattah] El-Sisi and the Mubarak clique.”

Yassa is also “fully convinced that no matter the support that El-Sisi has, there is no way that this support will be expanded to the NDP figures.”

According to Abdel-Gawwad, “those from the NDP who stood a chance in the next legislative elections are essentially the notables of the big families in the rural areas who always work with the government, regardless of who is in office, and those services rather than politics-oriented MPs who can always appeal to their constituencies.”

Abdel-Gawwad suggested that it is an open secret that those in office today never had much appreciation for Ezz or for that matter for Mubarak’s younger son, Gamal, or any of his associates.

“Those people have no political viability; they have no popularity and they are not liked by the regime so there is no way to imagine them having any role in the future; they got acquitted and they will go home to mind their business and if they don’t do so, I am inclined to think that they would be asked to very openly,”Abdel-Gawwad argued.

According to Abdel-Gawwad there is “a clear defining line between where the current regime stands on the revolutionary approach as a tool for inducing change and where it stands on the figures from the last few years of the Mubarak regime.”

A more complicated question raised by Saturday’s ruling is the fate of the groups that ushered in the 2011 revolution.

According to Khalil, “there might be a phase of depression before the political forces decide to rethink and reconceptualise their options and choices.”

Nadine Abdullah, a political researcher, believes there is one direct implication from the verdict, especially the failure to convict on charges related to the killing of demonstrators. She says there will be “more anger – it might be subdued, at least for now, but it will surely be increased,” arguing that it will definitely express itself but she is unclear about how and when.

Abdullah also argues that “even with this verdict” political Islamists are not likely to find back their way back into the larger pro-revolution camp.

She is also not sure whether the mass of workers, the only bloc that is still protesting in large groups for socio-economic rights, is willing to join the angry revolutionary youth for a next step.

“If the regime accommodates the socio-economic demands of the workers, it is unlikely that they will follow any future show of anger by the revolutionary forces, but if the regime fails to do so then it would be encouraging an association between the masses of labourers and the revolutionary youth.”

An official source meanwhile told Ahram Online that the acquittal of Mubarak and his top security aides is simply “closing a file of a page that had already been turned.”

“None of those acquitted today will have a public role; they will simply retire after not being found guilty by a court of law – for whatever legal reasons, and if no appeal is initiated by the prosecution,” he said.

As for the role of the police and the former members of the NDP, the same source commented: “we have laws to observe; the police will fulfill their duties in line with legal regulations, and the members of the NDP who are not found guilty of any charges and wish to run for the next parliamentary elections can offer themselves to the public, and it is the people who would decide”.

The official source declined to answer any question about the possible financial implication of the acquittal of Mubarak – which was an implicit wish of a number of Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have been key financial backers of Egypt since the ouster of Morsi.

“I reject the implication of this question; it suggests that the judiciary is not independent or that the presidency is going for a trade-off; I completely reject this,” he stated.
One Dead After Egyptian Security Forces Disperse Mubarak Verdict Protest
Protest against Mubarak verdict in Egypt.
Ahram Online, Saturday 29 Nov 2014

One has been confirmed dead and 8 injured according to Health Ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar after Egyptian security forces dispersed over 3,000 protesters who had gatherednear Tahrir Square on Saturday evening to protest a court verdict that dropped charges against Hosni Mubarak of killing protesters.

At 8:30PM, security forces fired water cannons at protesters then teargas and birdshot, according to an Ahram Online reporter at the scene.

Tanks also rushed the protesters who were gathered in Abdel-Moneim Riad square near Tahrir.

The Director of Security for Cairo governorate told Aswat Masriya that police arrested 85 protesters.

Earlier on Saturday, Cairo Criminal Court acquitted former president Hosni Mubarak, the former interior minister and top security chiefs of charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising. Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem were also acquitted of corruption charges related to the export of natural gas to Israel at below-market prices.
Egypt Judge Drops Murder Charges Against Mubarak, Acquits on Illicit Gains
Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Ahram Online , Saturday 29 Nov 2014

Failure to convict ousted president Mubarak, sons and police chiefs have been criticised by some rights analysts and political figures

A Cairo criminal court dropped charges Saturday against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for responsibility in the killing of protesters in the January 2011 uprising.

The judge said he would drop the murder case against Mubarak because the prosecution's earlier decision on 23 March 2011 to charge the 86-year-old lacked the legal basis to bring a criminal case against the ousted president.

The judge also ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on the charges against Mubarak, his two sons and businessman Hussein Salem on charges of profiteering from illegal gifts of villas.

In addition, Mubarak was acquitted of charges of collaborating with his minister of petroleum to profit from Hussein Salem's company by giving Salem the rights to export Egyptian natural gas to Israel at below market rates.

Salem was also acquitted of the charges.

Former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly along with his six aides were acquitted of charges of murder and attempted murder related to the killing of protesters in January 2011.

Mubarak and El-Adly were initially found guilty in June 2012 of responsibility for the killing of protesters and sentenced to life imprisonment. The initial verdict was appealed successfully and a retrial began in April 2013. Alaa and Gamal were defendants in the trial, but only faced corruption charges.

Despite being acquitted on Saturday, Mubarak and his two sons are still facing separate three-year prison terms for embezzlement of public funds.

The prosecution has said that it would appeal the verdict.

The 86-year-old former president who ruled for 30 years has spent much of his detention at a military hospital on the southern outskirts of Cairo.

El-Adly will also remain jailed. He was convicted on separate corruption charges, for which he now serves a seven-year jail sentence.

Salem was tried in absentia.

Verdict hailed by some

Dozens of Mubarak supporters hailed the verdict, waving pictures of the former president outside the courtroom where the verdict was issued, while the defence camp was jubilant.

El-Adly's lawyer, Essam El-Battawy, told CBC satellite channel that although his client will remain in prison on other charges he is optimistic he will soon be found completely innocent.

El-Adly has only one case ongoing and it is being appealed, his lawyer said. The remaining case, known in the Egyptian media as the"licence plates case," involves a government contract awarded to a German company to provide licence plates for vehicles at inflated prices.

El-Adly was acquitted of other corruption charges in previous cases, and was acquitted Saturday of responsibility for the killing of protesters in 2011, explained El-Battawy.

Speaking to Egyptian radio from Spain after the verdict was business tycoon Hussein Salem, who was acquitted of corruption in the Saturday verdict. Salem, who has been abroad since the 2011 uprising, said he would return as soon as possible.

"Tahya misr (long live Egypt)!" he said during his interview, repeating the patriotic slogan that is often deployed by supporters of the military.

Talking to Ahram Online, the deputy head of the Conference Party, Salah Hasaballah, defended the verdict, saying that Mubarak had given a lot to Egypt during his presidency.

Regardless of what the verdict had been, Hasaballah said that “Egyptians are more concerned with the political future of their country than with the past."

“After two revolutions and after a new elected president, our priorities are to focus on how to build the new Egypt.”

The Conference Party was founded last year by Mubarak-era foreign minister Amr Moussa.

Political backlash unlikely

Political analyst Mohamed El-Agaty of the Arab Forum for Alternatives think-tank told Ahram Online that he expects that the political backlash to the verdict to be small and to pass quickly.

El-Agaty argued that the state and media have been propagating a state of "panic" that will not allow for any mobilisation against the verdict.

Similarly, April 6 Youth Movement member Zizo Abdo also believes that the media has had an effect on public attitudes to the case making it unlikely people will object.

“I don’t believe that Egyptians will react against the verdict after the media has spent more than three years making propaganda against the revolution…saying it serves foreign agendas," he told Ahram Online, adding that he believed security forces would not allow people to mobilise against the verdict anyway.

He added that the "revolutionary movement" in Egypt is not strong enough at present to mobilise a reaction to the verdict.

“In light of the oppression of the security forces on any protests or political movements, I will not rely at this phase on the revolutionary movements [for protesting the verdict]; especially as security forces are supported by a majority of Egyptians,” said Abdo.

Security forces reportedly closed off Tahrir Square on Saturday afternoon, in anticipation of possible protests. Demonstrations are outlawed in Egypt, unless prior permission has been given by the interior ministry.

Trial, legal system citicised

Political analyst El-Agaty further argued that the case's verdict was to a large extent expected because of the legal elements of the case.

"It was also clear from the start that this case will go nowhere…there are no proper laws to fight corruption…you can’t put them [former regime figures] on trial using their own laws," he stated, adding that the legislation currently used to try figures from the former regime were mostly instated by them.

Head of the liberal Constitution Party, Hala Shukrallah, told Ahram Online that the problem is to a large extent the legal system, which lacks the right legislation to try cases involving corruption and mass killings.

"We (political parties) need to focus on changing the laws," she said.

Local rights watchdog the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) labelled the verdict “disappointing” and said it would "further entrench impunity for gross human rights violations committed by security forces, yet again absolved of responsibility for killing, injuring and torturing protesters."

In a statement released Saturday the rights body criticised the trial process, citing a failure by judicial authorities to address “deep flaws in the original trial.”

“Initial proceedings were marred by shortcomings ranging from the public prosecution's inadequate investigations, to the court's disregard of victims' lawyers motions to consider new evidence, to the judges' decision to ignore over a thousand witness accounts and audiovisual and other material evidence demonstrating police involvement in the killings," the statement read.

EIPR also echoed concerns about the way the Egyptian justice system handles such cases, stating that the acquittals “expose deep flaws in the Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedures entrusting evidence-gathering to police even in cases of alleged police abuse, allowing them to tamper with the evidence or withhold it to escape accountability.”

“Without having independent bodies investigating cases of police brutality, justice cannot be achieved," it added.

The statement drew a contrast between Saturday’s verdicts with the guilty verdicts handed down in the “Matay” case, when 37 defendants were sentenced to death and 491 to life in prison on charges of killing a single police officer in August 2013. According to EIPR, the judge in that case argued that criminal intent to kill any member of the police forces and the defendant’s presence at the crime scene was sufficient evidence to convict the defendants of murder or attempted murder.

Return of the old regime?

In addition to legal barriers that prevent such political figures from being convicted, Shukrallah said that she believes politically Egypt "is going back to how things were before the January 25 revolution."

"The old political order is being reinstated…even the figures of the old regime are resurfacing," she said.

Lawyer Amir Salem also argued that the verdict was a political statement, described the sentence as one that "acquits the former regime as a whole."

He told Ahram Online that the presiding judge's argument in the case was that he could not hold either Mubarak or El-Adly accountable for killing protesters after all the police officers under their command had been earlier found innocent and policemen have been systematically released since the January 2011 revolution.

"This verdict washes the hands of the former regime completely," he said.

Amr Darrag, a former minister in Mohamed Morsi’s government and a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure also stressed that the verdict was a political one, writing on Twitter in Arabic that "no real trial can take place under the current circumstances. A real trial can only be achieved when the people's will prevails and they reclaim the revolution."

Hosni Mubarak was removed from power following the 2011 revolution. During the first 18 days of protests, around 840 protesters were killed and more than 6,000 injured.
Egypt Court Drops Murder Charges Against Mubarak
Egyptian security forces have been used to break up demonstrations.
Ousted Leader Remains in Jail on Separate, Three-Year Sentence

Wall Street Journal
Nov. 29, 2014 4:02 p.m. ET

CAIRO—An Egyptian court dismissed murder charges against former President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday in the killing of hundreds of protesters by police in a 2011 uprising against his decades of autocratic rule, a decision that comes as the nation slides back toward authoritarianism.

The ruling, read by the judge presiding over a panel of jurists who were considering charges of culpability in the murder of the protesters, caps a nearly four-year process that led to the former president’s sentence of life in prison in 2012. The verdict was overturned on a technicality in 2013 and a retrial was ordered.

In addition to dismissing murder charges against the former president, his interior minister, Habib Al Adly, and six aides on Saturday, the judge announced that Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were found not guilty of corruption.

Mr. Mubarak, 86 years old, is serving a three-year prison term after being found guilty on separate corruption charges in May. It was unclear Saturday if he would complete that sentence in a military hospital, where he is being held because of his frail health, or be released, officials said.

In Tahrir Square, the telegenic epicenter of the 2011 revolt, several hundred people gathered to applaud and protest the court’s decision. Police tolerated the impromptu rally for a few hours but suddenly moved in, firing water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protest.

In a statement, the interior ministry said the demonstration was allowed until it was “infiltrated” by Muslim Brotherhood supporters who incited the crowd with chants against the police and military. Witnesses disputed that account, saying the entire protest was peaceful until police attacked it.

The judge’s decision was the final legal hurdle facing Mr. Mubarak after he was detained following his ouster on Feb. 11, 2012 after nearly 30 years in office. Legal experts said judicial authorities could rule that his detention could count as time served, raising the possibility that Mr. Mubarak could be freed in the coming weeks, despite his conviction on embezzlement charges in May.

The courtroom erupted in cheers after chief judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi finished reading the verdicts. Mr. Mubarak smiled and embraced his sons inside the defendants’ cage.

Later, speaking to a private satellite news program by telephone, Mr. Mubarak was defiant, suggesting the criminal proceedings against him were politically motivated.

“I did not do anything at all,” he said.

In dozens of homes, families of the protesters who were killed in the 2011 clashes with police expressed agony.

“Today, we were killed again,” said Amal Shaker, the mother of Ahmed Zain El Abedin, who was killed during the 18 days of demonstrations against Mr. Mubarak. “They acquitted the officers who followed the orders and killed our sons and now they acquit their superiors—the ones who gave the order to kill.”

As Egypt’s political transition has stumbled under pressure from the military, families seeking justice for the deaths of their relatives have had no relief. Nearly 200 police officers who faced charges for killing of protesters were acquitted or had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence.

Mr. Mubarak’s 2012 conviction was thrown out on appeal because of a procedural error.

Once billed as the trial of the century in Egypt, public interest in Mr. Mubarak’s journey through the legal system has waned since the nation underwent seismic political changes after the January 2011 uprising that unseated him.

Egypt held its first democratic presidential elections in June 2012, which Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, won. He was then ousted by the military in July 2013, following large street demonstrations denouncing his rule.

Mr. Morsi was imprisoned and is currently facing a number of charges in separate trials, including treason and murder, which rights groups have characterized as politically motivated.

The former general who carried out the coup, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, nominated himself for president in March and months later won against a weak opponent—reviving draconian laws against dissent as he presided over a fierce crackdown on Islamists and many of the figures who drove the uprising against Mr. Mubarak.

Legal experts said Saturday’s verdicts relating to Mr. Mubarak and the other defendants could be appealed, but there was little political will to do so.

The case had been mired in confusion and lacked transparency. Though a government sanctioned study found that nearly 900 people were killed during the 2011 uprising, the judge said on Saturday only 239 of the victims had been named in the case.

Mr. al-Rashidi, the judge, suggested during his reading of the verdict that prosecutors had erred in bringing a criminal case against the former president and that a criminal court didn’t have legal jurisdiction, leading him to dismiss the charges of murder.

He also said because of Mr. Mubarak’s advanced age and years of “public service,” it would best be left for history and god to judge him. He denied that the decision had “anything do with politics.”

The corruption charges Mr. Mubarak and his sons, along with a longtime associate, fugitive businessman Hussein Salem, were acquitted for involved the illegal sale of natural gas to Israel at reduced rates and for allegedly receiving vacation homes in exchange for political favors.

Write to Tamer El-Ghobashy at
Ferguson Protesters March to Governor’s Mansion; Officer Darren Wilson Resigns
March to Jefferson goes past rebellion area in Ferguson.
By David Montgomery and Wesley Lowery
Washington Post
November 29 at 9:26 PM  

FERGUSON, Mo. — Late on a day when a large column of protesters began a 120-mile march to the governor’s mansion and several hundred more laid plans to expand the movement, Officer Darren Wilson announced his resignation from the police force where he served for six years before fatally shooting Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Wilson said he was resigning because of threats of violence against the Ferguson Police Department or the public if he remained on the job, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me,” Wilson told the Post-Dispatch.

His legal team told The Washington Post earlier this week that he would probably resign, for his own safety. Three of Wilson’s lawyers did not return requests for comment Saturday night.

Earlier in the day, 150 demonstrators singing hymns and invoking sacred moments in civil rights history started a seven-day march from the spot on Canfield Drive where Brown’s body lay in the street for 4½ hours to the home of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in the state capital of Jefferson City.

Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, led the procession, called the Journey for Justice, which included local residents and allies from as far as California and North Carolina. When the group reaches the governor’s mansion, Brooks vowed to demand a change in leadership of the Ferguson police department and to call for legislation to stop racial profiling, require police to wear body cameras and reform the way communities are policed.

“Marches have a deep grounding in American history and civil rights history,” Brooks said. St. Louis County Police controlled traffic to allow the marchers to walk in one lane of the streets. “This march, like the Selma to Montgomery march, is really a pilgrimage, predicated on prayer and a moral grounding.”

Brooks noted that the 1965 Selma-Montgomery march was prompted by a police officer shooting a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson. The NAACP itself was formed a century ago in response to racially motivated lynchings.

“Here we are a century later trying to bring about an end to another form of racialized violence: racial profiling,” said Brooks, who said he considered the Brown case, at bottom, an example of racial profiling. The 18-year-old Brown was African American; Wilson, 28, is white.

Throughout the day, there was an energetic tide of peaceful protesting and organizing around the greater St. Louis area. At midday, demonstrators marched through a Trader Joe’s store in a suburb south of Ferguson, the Associated Press reported.

Just outside Ferguson, several hundred people filed into Greater St. Marks Family Church, a major meeting and coordinating refuge for protest leaders. The afternoon mass meeting was convened to consider a set of demands or goals — a vital process for a maturing movement that aims to connect with the signs of solidarity appearing throughout the country and in foreign cities.

“We need to keep the momentum up and connect with the actions across the country,” said Derek Laney, a local organizer.

Attendees, who were primarily community organizers, activists and others who have been involved in the protests, did not finalize demands, however. Instead, they took an informal vote on 10 demands or priorities, allowing top organizers to zero in on areas that have the most support. Items that enjoyed significant support included proposals to target policies that promote overly aggressive policing of minority communities and to create a national action plan for further protests.

After casting votes, the meeting broke into smaller groups to discuss priorities and plan future actions. The Ferguson protesters have maintained a decentralized leadership, a strategy that has encouraged wide participation but often causes confusion about messaging and leadership. It has prompted near-constant quibbling among various protest and activist groups who fall in the broad coalition. Organizers, however, remain loyal to the decentralized structure and have focused instead on attempts to grow further in numbers.

“This movement needs to grow indefinitely and needs to do so really fast,” Arielle Klagsbrun, a community organizer, told one of the mass meeting small groups.

Back on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, before the NAACP march began, a handful of residents marched around the makeshift Brown memorial of flowers and stuffed animals in the middle of the street. They objected when elegantly dressed leaders of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, who had a meeting in the area, pulled up in a Jaguar and a BMW and attracted media cameras.

“Hello, we’re talking here!” resident Copwatch organizer David Whitt shouted at the men in suits and hats and the women with jewels. “Come on, you all get out of here. Show some respect!”

The Baptist brass decamped.

Then about 75 bikers from area motorcycle clubs, including Dem Boys, pulled up to the memorial and revved their engines to much more enthusiastic response from residents. The bikers held a 4½-minute moment of silence.

Biker leader Harlan Smith, a Ferguson native, said he was a former police officer, like several of the bikers. He said he was not taking sides in the dispute over Brown’s killing. “We’re for peaceful demonstrations,” he said. “Tearing up my neighborhood is not going to be accepted.”

The march began after a prayer and a gospel song at the memorial. Turning onto West Florissant Avenue, they walked past volunteers painting the plywood covering shop windows that were smashed on Monday night after the grand jury decision was announced. A little girl in pigtails on a porch called out to them with the slogan of the movement: “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

At the end of each day, the marchers will be bused to a church in downtown St. Louis, and, later, one in Jefferson City, then returned the next day to the point where they stopped walking.

Derrick Copeland, a chef from Kansas City, Mo., said he took the week off work to march with his teenage nephews. “The government and the police have robbed us of our pride, but we still have the strength to march,” Copeland said.

“It could have been me or my brother,” said DaRon Simms, 19, one of the nephews, who just started at the University of Central Missouri.

Charles Pannell, 55, an Army veteran who was stationed in Korea in the 1970s, marched in camouflage and carried a large cross. Now it’s time to serve at home, he said.

“We can’t get it right somewhere else if in our own back yard we’re killing babies in the streets, 12-year-olds with toy guns.”

David Montgomery joined The Washington Post in 1993. He writes general features, profiles and arts stories for the Sunday Magazine and Style, including pieces on the Latino community and Latino arts.